THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala University’s Kariavattom campus would get rid of acacia, which has been widely accused of triggering asthmatic allergy and depletion of ground water.
The campus has over 200 acres of acacia plantation. Profuse regeneration has resulted in several areas of the plantation turning into a forest, inaccessible to humans.
A large number of complaints forced the university to get rid of the tree. Based on a request by the university, Social Forestry Wing of the State Forest Department has prepared a plan to replace the acacia plantation with indigenous trees.
J R Ani, assistant conservator of forests with Thiruvananthapuram social forestry division, said the plan envisages to replace 200 acres of plantation in four years. “The plan will be implemented in four phases. Every year 50 acres will be reclaimed,” he said.
The department has submitted a detailed plan to the Environment and Climate Change department, which is at present studying it. If everything works out as planned, afforestation of the campus with indigenous trees would begin by next March.
The list of indigenous species identified for the project include mango, jackfruit, wild jack (anjili), brindleberry (kudambuli), white orchid (mandaram), pera (common guava), paradise tree (Lakshmi Taru), cassia fistula, (Kanikonna) and badam.
According to J R Ani, afforestation of the Kariavattom campus would be modelled on the one done at the Sainik School. Indigenous sapling were planted on 21 hectares on the school campus. Social Forestry Wing implemented this project for the National Highway Authority of India in order to compensate trees felled for Kazhakoottam-Mukkola NH bypass road. 31,500 saplings of 35 varieties were planted here.
Why axe acacia?
Plants like Acacia show allelopathy and nutrient depletion from soil faster than other slow growing plants. The reason is acacia is an efficient biomass producer, it can produce more biomass than many other tree species. As a result of its fast growth and high biomass production acacia consume more water than other, less productive species. Growing acacia in low rainfall areas may cause adverse environmental impacts due to competition for water with other species and an increased incidence of allelopathy.
What is allelopathy?
Allelopathy is the chemical inhibition of one plant (or other organism) by another, due to the release into the environment of substances acting as germination or growth inhibitors.